16 Sep: Dubbing Gerry Adams

The ‘broadcasting ban’ on 11 Northern Irish organizations including Sinn Fein was finally lifted by Prime Minister John Major on 16th September, 1994, one fortnight after an IRA ceasefire had been achieved.

The regulations, implemented six years earlier by Margaret Thatcher and her Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, prevented British TV networks from broadcasting interviews with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, lest they drum up sympathy for Republicanist terrorism. So the broadcasters found a workaround: they employed voice actors to dub over the interviews.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly re-examine some of the absurd circumstances in which the ban was implemented and avoided; consider the pushback to the policy from the Labour party and miffed BBC staffers; and explain how the ban played into Cuba’s hands… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Northern Ireland, the BBC, and Censorship in Thatcher’s Britain By Robert J. Savage’ (Oxford University Press, 2022): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Northern_Ireland_the_BBC_and_Censorship/UJtjEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%27sinn+fein%27+and+%27broadcast+ban%27&printsec=frontcover

• ‘The ‘broadcast ban’ on Sinn Fein’ (BBC News, 2005): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4409447.stm

• ‘Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams Voiced By An Actor’ (BBC):